Vladimir Putin: Russian aggression is a myth, but Moscow does need friends

'Unlike foreign colleagues who see Russia as an enemy, we have never looked for enemies'

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The Independent Online

Russian president Vladimir Putin has dismissed reports of aggression from Moscow as "myths" and said he is "ready for cooperation" with US president-elect Donald Trump.

Mr Putin admitted the Russian government "needs friends" while warning foreign nations not to infringe upon Moscow's "interests", during a state-of-the-nation address in the capital.

Last week the EU parliament voted on a resolution aimed at countering “disinformation” and “hostile propaganda” from Moscow, in a move criticised by the Russian president.

"We don't want confrontation with anyone. Unlike our foreign colleagues who are seeing Russia as an enemy, we have never been looking for enemies, we need friends," Mr Putin told officials at the Kremlin.

"We won't allow any infringement on our interests and neglect of them. In the last few years. we have faced attempts of foreign pressure with all tools involved — from the myths about Russian aggression, allegations of meddling in elections to the hounding of our athletes.

"We are ready for cooperation with the new American administration. It's important to normalize and develop our bilateral ties on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.

"We share responsibility for ensuring global security and stability and strengthening the non-proliferation regime."

Tensions between Russia and the US have increased in recent times over the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Syria. In October the German foreign minister said the current situation was "more dangerous" than during the Cold War.

Following the election of Mr Trump, both he and Mr Putin appear to be willing to cooperate on world affairs and are due to meet in the coming months.

Mr Putin meanwhile pointed out the Russian economy has begun to recover following a 3.7 per cent slump in 2015, and announced agricultural exports from Russia now exceed weapons exports.